I do like a scone. And one of the best places to eat one is The Orchard in Grantchester. And don't just take my word for it- Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolfe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jawaharlal Nehru and, ummm, Stephen Fry all thought so too. Well their thoughts on scones might actually be unknown, but they all definitely frequented The Orchard during their time in Cambridge.
You only have to travel a mile or so out of the city to find the village of Grantchester. It's filled with lots of lovely little cottages, a couple of pubs, The Orchard, and not too much else. The Orchard, as the name indicates, is an orchard of apple and various other fruit trees with lots of deckchairs dotted about it. The site also has a little Rupert Brooke museum marking its link to the poet who immortalised it in verse, and more importantly a tea room from which you can buy savoury things for lunch, a range of cakes, and importantly scones. It's self-service so you will have to queue up with a tray canteen-stylee, but with tables scattered randomly all over the place I don't think waitress service would work very easily here.
So on what now appears to be one of the last sunny days of the summer, the male companion person and I took ourselves off in search of a cream tea. The Orchard can get ridiculously busy at the height of summer with students, tourists and residents all competing for available deckchairs. But in late August we had a bit more choice when selecting our dining spot. We went for a classic choice of freshly baked scones, clotted cream (Rodda's), jam and tea for two (which came to around £11.00). The scones were huge, but not too dense or doughy, and perfect smothered in cream and jam. The tea was an adequate if not very exciting Twinings Earl Grey, and I do think that The Orchard could jazz up this side of things. But overall this was still an excellent cream tea.
My only gripe with our tea was due to some highly annoying winged visitors that decided to join us. I guess sitting in a fruit orchard with pots of jam in summer is probably asking for wasp trouble, but it was bloody annoying nevertheless, though my shrieking and arm waving probably didn't help things. Note to self- if running away from a wasp maybe do not grab the jam-filled scone in panic too, as this is not likely to make the wasp go away.
Thankfully the wasps did eventually lose interest and left us in peace to laze around in our deckchairs. And after a while I thought that the best way to get over the recent wasp trauma was to, ahem, eat some cake. On offer were Victoria sponge, carrot cake, chocolate fudge cake, and coffee and walnut (all around £3.00), which I eventually plumped for. The light coffee sponge, and the not too sweet buttercream icing, meant that despite eating a huge scone quite recently, fitting in this piece of cake too was in fact a piece of cake (see what I did there?!).
So if you want to follow in the footsteps of poets, philosophers and prime ministers, and enjoy a scone while lazying about in the sun in a deckchair I thoroughly recommend a visit to The Orchard.
The Orchard Tea Garden
45-47 Mill Way
Grantchester CB3 9ND
NB The Orchard is open all year round, not just during summer, and has an indoor seating area too.